Monday, October 21, 2013

Are You Apart or A Part of Jesus?

Are You Apart or A Part of Jesus? - John 13:1-17

As Jesus is gathered with His disciples, He gets up from the table to begin to wash their feet. When gets to Peter, Peter refuses to let Jesus wash his feet. Jesus was the one who Peter promoted as the Messiah, the Son of God (even if he didn't quite understand it fully yet (Luke 24:45, etc.), there was no way He was going to wash his feet. At this point, Jesus tells Peter that if he won't let Him wash his feet, that Peter will have no part in His work (John 13:8). Peter's response (John 13:9) shows that he misunderstands verse 8 and now is asking to be completely washed. Jesus responds and lets Peter know that the washing He is administering has nothing to do with salvation, but an example of not only humility and servanthood, but the daily cleansing that each believer needs. Just as the dirt from the roads would gather on the feet of a person as they walked the city streets, even after coming from the central bath house (read more about it here) where they have been fully cleaned, sin gathers in the life of the believer and we need that daily cleansing, or repentance of sin. So, this is not only an example of humility and servanthood, but a picture of our need for daily cleansing from sin as believers.

With this in mind, when we reconsider what Jesus said to Peter, we see that Jesus warns him that unconfessed sin with keep Peter apart of the ministry and fellowship of Jesus. If we want to be A PART of the work of the Lord, we cannot allow unconfessed sin in our heart and life. Ephesians 5:25-26 give us the mode of washing today: the Word of God. It is through our daily, consistent study of the Word of God that we can be washed of the daily sin that gathers. Without this daily washing, we will not be A PART of our Lord's work, but it will keep us APART from the work.

So today, at this moment, are you APART or A PART?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Grace & Politics

While I could start off by saying there has been a lot of politics in the news today, the truth of the matter is that politics are always a hot-issue button. But what does the Bible say about our role a born-again believers within the realm of politics?

Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

We see from Paul's words to Titus that we are subject to the office AND the person in the office. Not just to be respectful of the office, but obedient to the office AND person. Even if the person holding the office makes it difficult, we are to obey the office.

At the writing of this letter, Nero was in charge of the Roman Empire and Western World. The following info on Nero can be found here:

Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68) was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death. In 64 AD, most of Rome was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome, which many Romans believed Nero himself had started in order to clear land for his planned palatial complex, the Domus AureaHe is infamously known as the Emperor who "fiddled while Rome burned"[7] and as an early persecutor of Christians. He was known for having captured Christians to burn them in his garden at night for a source of light. This view is based on the writings of Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio, the main surviving sources for Nero's reign.
It has been said that no one embodied the very spirit of antichrist more than Nero. So if Christians were expected to be subject and obedient  unto good works towards Nero, what would be expected of us today? Peter said that it was better to obey God than man (Acts 5:29), but what was the context? (Acts 5:17-32). They were charged with not preaching that Jesus was the Messiah and that it was the Jews who killed the Son of God. This charge was for all times and in all places. So, when government arrest us and tries to make us completely stop the preaching of the Gospel - we must stand against it. Or, when the government makes a law that would force us to do something contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture, we must stand against it (EX: Daniel, refusing to pray to King Darius, lions’ den). But lets be honest: has that happened to us today, here in America?

How did Jesus react to the government during His earthly ministry? We see one of the ways in Mark 12:13-17. Consider this - do you think Jesus agreed with everything Caesar did with the tax money? Yet, He said to give to Caesar anyway. Why? Because he would be the one accountable for how it was spent;  we are accountable for not obeying the laws and not paying the tax.

How did Paul react to the government during his ministry? Paul, even after being arrested and jailed on multiple occasions, never called for a change in government. Instead of getting caught up in political dealings, Paul focused on his calling as a missionary and evangelist to a lost and dying world in need of Jesus. The persecution he faced from governments was his cross that he bore. His goal was to not know anything, except for Jesus and Him crucified. But lets be honest: more people know Christians by their politics and their faith.
So then, what is our duty to government?
  1. Pray - 1 Tim. 2:1-2.
  2. Obey - this is what we see in the text of Titus 3:1.
  3. Here in America, we also have a third duty - make our voice count when it comes time to vote.
But as we vote, we realize our hope and strength is not found in government and ballotsAnd once we make our voice heard at election - we move on serving the Lord no matter the election outcome.
Why is obeying those who have the rule over us so important?

Romans 13:1–2  — 1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

So, before you forward that email, or share that Facebook picture, or tweet your disgust of our current politicians, remember Romans 13:2 and think, "When I complain, say spiteful and mean-spiritied things, and rebel, I am really doing so against God."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown: WE are the Problem

While there is no shortage of opinions on the "who's" and "why's" of the Government Shutdown, there is one "who" and "why" I haven't heard. One that I think is the real culprit to this mess.

WHO: It is not the Democrat's or the Republican's fault, even though both parties are acting like spoiled children who refuse to talk to someone who disagrees with them. It is no the Tea Party's fault. It is not Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or any other new outlet's fault though each of them often slant the news to their own agenda. 


We are the ones who voted for these men and women. Now, you may be thinking to yourselves, "Well, I didn't vote for ___________." But you did vote for the other person. And while I will not make a blanket statement about ALL politicians, I am comfortable enough to say that MOST politicians don't run based on their personal convictions about right and wrong. MOST politicians, if the truth were to be told, run on VOTES. They say and do what they think will either get them elected, or help get them re-elected in the next cycle. And...they act in a way that they think their electors want them to. 

All of this leads to the WHY. Why is it politicians are so divisive, so unwilling to converse with the other side to come to a peaceful resolution? Because the people they represent, the people that voted them in, are. Don't believe me? Spend some time parsing through social media. If you do, you will read nothing but extreme statements and opinions with no consideration for the other point of view and any merits they may have. We are an angry society today, and look for any reason to express it.

Case in point. Today, I needed to call my old post office in MI to look for a package that was delivered there. I have a forward on my mail to be sent here to my new home in AR, but sometimes that doesn't happen. So, I looked up the number and called. The phone began to ring....and ring....and ring....and ring. No answer. What did I do next? I went to Twitter and posted:

After posting, I decided to "google" whether or not the post office was supposed to be closed due to the  government shut down...and it wasn't. So I called again, and they answered.

We spend so much time complaining and criticizing everything, and especially those that disagree with us, that we have lost the art of dialogue. No one listens to anyone anymore. Paul listened to others, viewed their actions, and dialogued with them (Acts 17:16-34). Instead, we want everyone to know our opinion, how we've been wrong, and how everyone who disagrees with us is completely wrong and has no business doing whatever it is they are doing. Now, in this world, there are absolutes. Some things are right, and some things are wrong. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try our best to keep the lines of communication open with those whom we disagree with. 

Take time to hear out both sides, and realize there is only One who in infallible, only One who has the answer. We don't, and we would do go to remember that when in discussion with others who disagree with us. A kind spirit goes further than forceful words filled with hate and ignorance.